If we were forced to define Western civilization, we would have to address its hunger for the novel. It seems as if our culture is obsessed with pushing forward, with discovering new ways and places in which to be. This is, often, viewed as a positive thing; the texts which exist in favor of entrepreneurship and pioneering are plenty. However, in our rush for the new, we don’t often delay on the prices those who come to occupy these next frontiers will pay. One of the prices that seem more and more actual is the price of loneliness.
These prices are hard to pin down and are thus more scary, as we might all be susceptible to them. The paradox is clear: the more important and crushing dangers of being out on the edge are ignored. This becomes important as Western culture (and, indeed, other, larger parts of humanity) stands on the brink of two frontiers. We’ve already waded out into the shallows of the first and are preparing to jump into the deep; these are the waters of the digital society. It affects all of us and we are all exposed to its prices. As we submerge ourselves more and more in its binary waters, we enter a new mode of being and create new places in which to exist. The second frontier is an emerging one; we’ve only begun to test its frigid water. This frontier is outer space and we are preparing to start moving into it.
Both of these frontiers hold plenty of challenges but one is often overlooked: loneliness. In both the digital and the astral realms, denizens will be faced with an acute perception that they are alone. However, the types of loneliness felt will obviously differ. What even is digital loneliness? How can we feel alone when we are supposedly so connected? From the other end, how can loneliness in outer space be mitigated? What creates it? What will we do in order to deal with something which seems like an inherent aspect of space exploration?